Kings and Castles

By Marc Morris

Medieval Britain used to be ruled through its kings, and its kings ruled the land with their castles.

But what have been these castles? have been they fortresses? Palaces? Or symbols in their proprietors energy, and in their correct to rule.

In this stimulating number of articles and essays, the best-selling historian and broadcaster Marc Morris solutions these basic questions - and plenty of extra.

He explores a few of Britain’s favorite castles, comparable to Framlingham, Goodrich and chateau Acre, and the castle-building campaigns of recognized kings like William the Conqueror and Edward I. And he addresses concerns comparable to the origins of the cult of St George, the altering function of the medieval English earl and the riddle of the Winchester around desk. articles – one on Edward I’s acceptance, one other on Lanercost Priory – look right here for the 1st time.

Dr Marc Morris is a best-selling historian and broadcaster. In 2003 he provided the six-part television sequence fortress and wrote its accompanying e-book. His different books comprise a seriously acclaimed biography of Edward I, an exceptional and negative King, and an immense new heritage of The Norman Conquest

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As you could count on, in a interval spanning greater than 4 centuries, there has been lots of kind in fortress layout. because the date 1066 indicates, the tale of castles in England starts off with the Normans. those earliest castles have been at the beginning guns of conquest, utilized by the Normans to carry down a reluctant English inhabitants, and as such the majority of them have been outfitted at nice velocity – out of wooden. For the main half they have been additionally outfitted to a standard layout – the recognized ‘motte and bailey’. The motte, an incredible man made mound of earth surmounted via a wood tower, was once the castle’s look-out and supreme position of defence; the adjoining bailey, an enclosure shaped via steep banks and ditches, housed the remainder of the castle’s structures. Pickering in Yorkshire offers a good instance. after all, the unique wood partitions at such castles at the moment are gone yet, in the event you spot a motte, you may be certain it used to be erected early: definitely inside of a century (and probably inside a iteration) of the Conquest itself. whereas such a lot early castles have been rapidly erected from earth and wooden, a tiny handful have been being outfitted out of stone, and to a miles grander layout. rather than a motte, the richest castle-builders – the king and his maximum barons – erected big stone towers (or retains, as they're often referred to as today). The earliest belong to the 11th century, yet usually ‘the nice tower’ is a twelfth-century phenomenon. And phenomenon, because the recreated inside of Henry II’s nice Tower at Dover makes transparent, is a completely applicable observe, for those constructions have been palaces, not anything much less. making a choice on them within reason basic, due to their sheer dimension and bulk (Rochester in Kent, hovering to 113 toes, is the tallest such tower in Europe). The interval during which they have been outfitted signifies that they show ‘Romanesque’ beneficial properties – glance out for semi-circular arches, chevron ornament and blind arcading (as at fort emerging in Norfolk). probably unusually, nice towers frequently show no visible army – few of them, for instance, have arrowloops – simply because in every one case they have been surrounded via defensible partitions that have usually (as at Orford in Suffolk) fullyyt vanished. these partitions, despite the fact that, are the main to the following significant improvement in fort layout. round the 12 months 1200, nice towers fell out of favour – most likely simply because they have been seen as at risk of new extra complicated types of assault (the gigantic catapults often called trebuchets). realization shifted to the fringe partitions, which have been now interrupted via towers. Early examples (such as Framlingham in Suffolk) favoured sq. towers, yet quickly the choice was once for around ones (again, most likely simply because they have been believed to be stronger). whilst, additional care used to be taken to shield the castle’s front by way of positioning a tower each side of it, making a ‘twin-towered’ gatehouse. Such gatehouses, and around mural towers – those are the tell-tale indicators that you're confronting a thirteenth-century citadel. Goodrich, close to the Welsh border in Herefordshire, presents a well suited instance.

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